I have been roundly criticized by some in the wine world for our bottle prices. I can’t answer all (one on one) because they hit and run. Theyll post something on a blog and make a comment then move on to bash someone else. You don’t have to be uneducated to be ignorant. In fact, the word was not meant to be used in a negative manner. Its definition (the lack of knowledge) is just that. I’m ignorant in many things. I can’t perform brain surgery, can’t play guitar, can’t even hack into someone else’s computer hell, I have enough problems just turning mine on. So, I’m Ignorant but not uneducated. The thing is, I try not to pretend I’m an expert and speak from authority of matters I know nothing of. Why then, is it alright to out of hand say, “That costs too much” without trying to understand first? But many, without even trying a bottle, write a note on some wine forum saying, “Thats overpriced”, or “I’m tired of someone coming into the market with another high priced wine. I don’t doubt there are many wines that don’t support the price tag. Its sometimes hard to navigate the mine fields full of con men and women claiming one thing but delivering another. We are not that; I can promise you. I have big shoulders and can certainly take the criticism as long as youve tasted the wine and then rejected it. But out of hand comments are ignorant! And just for the record, Lafite, Latour, Leroy and Romanee Conti are by their standards overpriced and in some cases 10-50 times the bottle price we ask. But are they really? I have tasted them in multi vintages and can speak with authority! The real question is can you?
Why are our wines priced the way they are? Here’s a short list of reasons for those that need further clarification.
All wines are made in the vineyard and we strive to do whatever is necessary to bring in great fruit. Our yields are consistently lower or equal to the lowest in the state. We do this for quality. What does that do to the price of fruit? It can be 2 to 10 times higher than some of our competitors. We hand pick every cluster. In fact, we hand maintain all of our blocks. If I spend three times more for fruit then a competitor, that would mean my bottle price might be triple the price. But that’s just the beginning. We sort aggressively meaning even less fruit the majority of producers never sort anything. We do not use the entire amount of must that goes into the press electing to leave 15-20% behind. Why? Because the spent yeast and seeds in the bottom of the fermenter will leave bitterness that greatly impacts the wine. Most winemakers would never sacrifice any liquid. We press very lightly and in the end we have an intimate relationship with each barrel. All are tasted separately and if not up to our tough standards, bulked out and never to be seen again. Then a second cut of very good barrels end up in restaurant labels. We use the best cork, expensive labels and bottles. Trust me, this doesn’t pencil out, however in the end we have a wine that is world class. We make very little but what we do make is at the top of the food chain. I can go further as to the labor cost from the greatest staff in the business who work long hours to ensure that quality. Then a blending regime that takes months. The new oak from three year or 30 month air dried extra tight grain French barrels. Many exceed $1100.00 to $1200.00 in price.
We have made a huge investment in the best equipment possible. Fermenters that are temperature controlled with glycol, ensuring cool, steady long fermentations. All designed by myself with the help of Rieger. I won’t bore you with the capital investment but its eye opening, that’s for sure. So before you go off half cocked and say something that is “ignorant”, think first! You can buy machine picked over cropped, water added, oak chipped infused, spun off alcohol, acid induced specials with cultivated yeast and inoculated malo’s if you wish. But that type of winemaking doesn’t interest me. And for those loyal customers who have visited us and know what were about, we thank you and will continue to earn your trust. For those that don’t know us and write without thinking, your anger might be better suited to the real culprits in the high price arena. We sell a lot of our wines to distributors around the country so we can be at the great dinning destination you have booked. That three tier system brought about long ago is protected in every state by lobbyist that would never let the revenue go. The plain truth is they make more on my bottles than I do! We end up mixing retail, wholesale and F.O.B. pricing and the net weighted average is 70% less than we receive. Here’s another example: a bottle of Domain Leroy Romanee St. Vivant 2005s average price in U.S. dollars is $2600.00. Unbelievable, but not near as much a Domaine de la Romanee Conti Romanee Conti 2005 at over $5000.00 per bottle. But this is not the Domaine only! Yes,they are asking some crazy prizes to begin with but the U.S. Importer is at least doubling down on the price. If compared to those giants were a fly on a Nats tail pipe.
We all have a pain tolerance when it comes to buying luxury items like wine. I was brought up by a Mother and Father who did not have much but they loved the heck out of me. I know what it’s like to stretch a dollar. Were not for everyone. But please understand that were not making a dime right now and if I could give the stuff away, I would. I can tell you we make less than many of those 15 to 20 dollar bottles when it comes to our bottom line. And since we make very little wine and sell every bottle year in and year out, I guess were doing something right. All the best to all these coming Holidays. We wish all of you a safe and healthy season. Remember, this is the time to eat and while youre at it, drink a little wine, no matter what it costs.
My promise is a simple one; we will always strive to be worth the price!
Thanks for the look,